Friday, December 13, 2019

Book Review: The Lost World by Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park #2)

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: Action scenes are fun and thrilling
Cons: Too many lectures between action scenes
The Bottom Line:
Jurassic sequel
More action packed dinosaurs
Slowed down by lectures

Scientific Theories Disguised as Fiction Make Desire to Read This Novel Extinct

Back before the original Jurassic Park sequel hit theaters, I listened to an abridgment of The Lost World, Michael Crichton’s sequel novel to his original novel.  I know, I know, abridgments, but that was all my library had of the title at the time.  After listening to the full Jurassic Park last year, I decided to give The Lost World a relisten, this time to the full book.  I remember thinking the book was a decent sequel, but clearly the abridgment was an improvement.

The action picks up a few years after the original disaster.  It turns out that that the rumors of Ian Malcom’s death were greatly exaggerated.  After a couple of years recovering, most of them under the care of Sarah Harding, Ian is back to lecturing on chaos theory.  While none of the survivors of the Jurassic Park disaster have talked about what happened, there are rumors.  And those rumors aren’t helped by the reappearance of weird creatures on the Costa Rica coast.  In fact, wealthy scientist Richard Levine has come up with the theory that there is another island with dinosaurs on it, and he is obsessed with finding it.

When he does locate it, he rushes there, leaving a cryptic message for Ian, who thinks they need to set up a rescue operation.  With Jack Thorne, who has made the equipment that Levine and Malcom intended to use on the island, they set out.  Meanwhile, Sarah, who studies predators in the wild, begins flying from Africa to join them.  Will the scientists be able to prove their theories about dinosaurs and about how dinosaurs became extinct?  Or will some stowaways and other uninvited guests ruin their plans?

Now, let’s be honest, we all know where this book is going.  Even if you haven’t seen the movies, if you’ve read the first book, you know what is going to happen.  But instead of getting to the island, we instead spend time chasing rumors of dinosaurs on the mainland.  Sorry, but that is all boring.

Things don’t improve when we get to the island.  Instead of getting right to the action, we instead get lectures about dinosaurs and how they lived and theories about what might have made them extinct.  Seriously, this book could have been significantly shorter if those scenes were cut.  Or at least the duplicates cut out since we hear some of these theories a couple of different times.

Crichton is still the master of suspenseful writing, however.  When the dinosaurs are running amok, it is hard to think about anything else.  The miles flew by as I listened in my car, on the edge of my seat to find out who would live and who would become dinosaur food.  It’s just these attacks don’t really start until the final quarter of the book.  Yes, some of these scenes will be familiar if you know the movie, but some of them play out differently.  And the ending?  It’s much better than the ending of the movie.  Much, much better.

The reason the abridgment worked?  It cut out much of the monologues and lectures I was talking about.  At least, that’s my assumption since it has been over 20 years since I listened to it.

The unabridged version I listened to this time was read by Scott Brick.  He does a great job with the material, but there’s only so much he can do when the material is this dry.

There is an entertaining novel in The Lost World.  The problem is, you have to wade through a lot of speculative scientific lectures to find it.  Fans of the first will be glad they read this one, but it isn’t something to rush out and get and skimming will help you enjoy it.

This book is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.

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